The ground-breaking of a new residential seniors care facility at the former field of Blanshard elementary last week was an especially emotional time for Walter Donald.
Walter's brother Bob suffered a stroke roughly three years ago, just two days before Christmas. Walter found his brother on the ground in his room several hours after the stroke, and he was unable to move the left side of his body.
“I was completely devastated. I couldn't believe it,” Walter said. “He couldn't move and couldn't speak. I said 'Bob, you're in big trouble. But don't worry, I'll never leave you' and that was my promise.”
After spending six months in rehab at Victoria General Hospital, Bob eventually regained strength in his arm and leg and was able to walk and talk again.
But Walter, whose wife suffered a stroke a while before, found it increasingly difficult to care for his brother, and Bob was eventually put into the senior care facility at Oak Bay Lodge.
Since then, Bob's health has deteriorated significantly. He cannot move his left leg and arm, has trouble feeding himself, lost weight and is in constant pain.
Walter visits his brother almost everyday to spend time with him and make sure he eats.
While Bob is receiving all the care the facility can offer, Walter believes it's not enough.
“The people there do what they can. It was meant to be a 1960s semi-luxurious home for people and that's what it was built for. It wasn't built to do what it's doing,” Walter said.
That's where The Summit at Quadra Village comes into play. Officials broke ground on the roughly 3.5-acre lot last week.
The $86-million, 320-bed facility for seniors and people with dementia, includes private rooms with en suite bathrooms for all residents, a natural courtyard, activity areas, a physiotherapy room, hair salon, lounge and a small concession, among other things.
The four-storey building, which is a partnership between the Capital Region Hospital District and Island Health, will replace the aging Mount Tolmie Hospital and Oak Bay Lodge and is expected to be complete in 2019.
“This will be a great start to replacing those two facilities,” said Barb Desjardins, vice chair of the hospital district. “Going forward I think you will see more facilities. This is not separating people and putting them in towers, this is bringing the community in and bringing people out to the community.”
Walter, who helped with the input and planning of the facility from a senior residents' perspective, hopes it will help provide a comfortable last home for many residents.
“I know how important this new Summit at Quadra Village is for those who currently live at Oak Bay Lodge and those who aren't there yet, but will be,” Walter said, adding his brother might not live to see the facility open. “They are people like you and me. This could be your home, your final home.”
But the project hasn't been without controversy. The Quadra Village Community Centre hoped the hospital district would keep some of the green space for residents in the neighbourhood to use, since there is already a lack of green space in the area.
There are plans for common spaces for the neighbourhood, such as allotment gardens, playing field space and a playground facility, however, a budget has not been set for such amenities, said Kelly Greenwell, executive director of the centre.
“There's a great regional need that's being met, but it's sad for the neighbourhood,” he said, adding the centre will be actively watching the planning along the way. “I'm concerned that now that shovels are in the ground, once the building starts that maybe those commitments of those things might become lesser rather than greater.”